Have you ever taken a photo of your artwork and found that the colors did not match the painting? Was it sharp and crystal clear or slightly blurry? Do you see the edges of your artwork where it is slightly distorted? Do you see a glare or hotspots? Well I have when photographing my own artwork. I discovered years ago that photographing my own artwork was not the way to go for me.
When I looked into what I needed to photograph my own artwork, I found there was more to it than just point and shoot. Now I have never stated that I was a photographer, so understanding this process was a little overwhelming for me. And to be honest, understanding the camera seemed "Greek" to me. Now if I took the time and took a photography course or read hundreds of pages in understanding the camera and settings, then maybe I could get it.
But for those who do want to photography their own artwork, here are a few tips I have learned:
- Use the best camera equipment that you can afford.
- Use a stable and solid tripod.
- To minimize blurriness, use a self timer.
- Avoid putting your artwork in direct sunlight - overcast sky or indirect light
works the best.
- Set the white balance on your camera correctly.
- Do not use the flash on your camera.
- Make sure your artwork is photographed directly and not under glass.
These are just a few things to consider and I advise you to research more about your camera settings, lighting, etc. before deciding to photograph your artwork.
Here are a few examples of my own work taking the photos myself vs. using a professional photographer.
My photo seemed very dark in color, especially the blacks, which was not true to the painting. Even though my photo is focused, clear and was taken on a flat surface, the edges are still distorted. The photo taken by professional photographer is exactly how the original painting appears.
Here is another example:
Again, my photos do not show the true colors of the painting as well as the professional photo does.
I spoke to my photographer and he gave me some really important tips as to why it is best to have your artwork professionally photographed that I wanted to share with you. I use Harrington PAF to photograph all of my artwork.
Why should you let a professional photograph your art?
"As a photographer who had devoted a lot of time to photographing art over the past several years I feel there are many reasons.
Here are some that top my list:
1.) Equipment and Experience
When photographing art it's important to have a proper lighting set up. Understanding light and knowing how to set up for art will produce an image that is evenly lit without glare or hotspots.
It is very important to know how to photograph a piece of art that's in focus from the bottom to the top and corner-to-corner.
Accurately reproducing the diverse colors in artwork can be one of the most challenging aspects of art photography.
Many times artwork has a shine. It might be a clear cote, varnish or a certain medium. It is important to know how to eliminate this to produce an accurate final image.
5.) Aspect Ratio
Getting the final size of the image to match the ratio of the painting size is a must. Having clean edges and accurate sizing requires a more in depth understanding of the process. There is much more to it than just pointing and shooting.
These are a few of the things I have worked through over the years. If you want clear accurate images of your art, it's best to let a photographer with experience in the field of photographing art." Dan Harrington
Because I offer Giclee prints of all my artwork, I personally find that using a professional is best for me. Also, since I enter many art shows, it is very important that I use the best photo of my artwork possible.
These are just my personal feelings and preferences and I commend those that can accomplish photographing your own art with high quality. Maybe someday I will take a course in photography and learn these skills, but for now I would rather paint and let my photographer do what he does best!
Do you photograph your own art? If so, please feel free to leave any comments or questions?
Working with oils wet on wet, the snowy owl was quite a challenge since each feather had dark to light and shading colors. I found it easier to paint each feather individually ----- sooooo many feathers. But as challenging as it was I enjoyed painting them as it was bringing my snowy owl to life.
"Solitude - Snowy Owl"
Close up view of the snowy owl"
Photos of the complete painting in progress:
In my next blog post, I want to discuss photographing your artwork yourself vs. a professional photographer, so please check back soon. Also, feel free to leave any comments or questions.
When I began this painting, I knew I wanted the background to be a snowy open field and I was going to place the owl on a rock, surrounded by dried grass. However, after I applied the sky colors and snowy field, I changed my mind on the surroundings, as I really liked the simple look of the background. At this point, I decided to add a broken fence post in place of the dried grass and rock.
I rarely title a painting before the painting is done, because that can be one of my biggest challenges. Because of the painting's simplicity of one single fence post and one owl I chose "Solitude - Snowy Owl" as the title.
In my next post I will show the completed painting, so check back soon! As always comments and questions are welcome!
My wildlife photographer friends seem to be on the look out for snowy owls that come down from Canada into the northern parts of New York. Since I have never painted a snowy owl, I thought it was time. Now I have never seen a snowy owl in the wild, but I did have some reference photos I took at the zoo. This was the photo I decided to use for this painting.
When looking at the photo, I was a little confused by the colors. I had always thought that snowy owls were black flecked, although my photo shows the markings being brown. So to the web I went to research more about snowy owls. I like to research the animals I paint to better understand their characteristics and habitats.
Through my research, I found that the flecks and bars can be brown to dark or brownish/black - Defenders Of Wildlife. According to All About Birds, some snowy owls may even have black and brown bars together.
So now that I have a better understanding of snowy owls and their habitats, character and color, I am ready to sketch out my owl.
Since this painting is going to be primarily snowy background and the owl is the whitest bird, I am not doing a background wash. This leaves the pure white of the gesso primed masonite board for me to use for the background.
Check back soon for more of my painting in progress, "Solitude - Snowy Owl". Please feel free to leave any comments or questions, as they are always welcome!
Since I now have the final coat of fur and highlights done, I am really happy with the painting and ready to sign. Titles for a painting are sometimes as challenging as actually painting it, but I had a few ideas in mind and suggestions from others and decided to go with:
"Within The Shadows"
Photos of the complete painting in progress:
Now that my painting is completed I will take it to a professional photographer to photograph and print proof. Even though I do have a digital camera, I cannot say that my skills in photography are in any way professional. I also, want to offer Giclee prints of my paintings so a professional photographer who works with artwork is the best route for me to take.
Your comments or questions are always welcome!
Now that I have the wolf and background blocked in, I am ready to have fun in painting the fur. Yes, for me it is fun because it is like bringing my subject to life.
Second coat of fur and more detail to the eyes and nose.
Here I added a 3rd. coat of fur with a few highlights and painted in the foreground pine tree branches and leaves. I decided at this point to add more leaves in the mid-ground in contrasting fall colors to add more depth to my painting.
Now I am ready to paint the final coat of fur and highlights where I feel it is needed. I also notice that the right eye needs to be adjusted to correspond with the left eye. In my next post I will show you the completed painting, so check back soon!
Any comments or questions you may have are welcome!
For this painting, I decided to go with a portrait of the wolf instead of the full body, putting him in the shadows of the pine tree and with a woodsy background.
When doing the sketch, I knew I wanted a dark background with the pine tree branches if front of the wolf. So to add a little color I am adding some colorful leaves to the foreground as well.
From the reference photo, I decided to trace the photo onto a sheet of paper and then transferring it onto my masonite, instead of free hand sketching. By doing this I am not losing any detail within the wolf. Sometimes I will use a grid to sketch out my image from a reference photo, using tracing paper and making 1" x 1" squares. Then depending on the size I want the painting to be I will draw the grid lines onto the masonite or canvas accordingly to the proportions. Say I wanted the image to be doubled the size in my reference photo, I would then draw my grid 2" x 2" squares on the masonite. I would do this only for the main subject matter and then free hand the surrounding scenery.
I wanted a warm look to my painting, so I decided to use a Burnt Sienna wash over the entire surface of the masonite. I find by using Burnt Sienna, it gives a little warmth to the paint colors I am using. It will also set the tonal values of the painting and it takes the glare out of the stark white of the gesso. I then take a cloth and wipe off some of the Burnt Sienna where the highlights would be on my subject matter. This is the only time I use an acrylic paint as it drys quickly, thinning it with water to a watery consistency.
Once the wash is completely dry I am ready to apply the base colors within the background and the wolf, blocking in the light and the dark. I am purposely leaving out the base color of the leaves and pine tree branches as I want the fur of the wolf to show through them. Since I will be painting a 2nd. and possibly a 3rd. layer of fur, I am going to wait on painting the foreground until the layers are completed.
Now that my colors of the background and the wolf are blocked in I am ready to paint the 2nd. coat of fur.
In my next post I will show the 2nd. and 3rd. layer of fur and foreground colors, so check back soon. Also, please feel free to leave any comments or questions!
Masonite (Hardboard) vs. Canvas
The Wildlife and Nature Art of Johanna Lerwick. A blog about painting wildlife and nature. Topics including painting in progress, oil paintings, art prints, art licensing and painting techniques.